A good parent will say NO many times to their children to protect them. No will take many forms starting in toddlerhood with “NO, you may not touch…it’s hot” then to the young child, “No you may not play with this friend or at that friend’s house” and then to the adolescent, “NO, you may not attend the party where there are no chaperones”. Most NOs will be in the child’s best interest. Sadly some parents have abused the word NO and have used it to break the spirits of their children. This will make it difficult to see any good in the word NO and will most likely bring rebellion into the parent-child relationship as he/she grows up. As adults (Christian adults at that) we don’t want to hear NO, sometimes even when it’s for the best. When someone tells us we can’t do something, that we are NOT welcome somewhere or when we are told NOT NOW, our tendency is to be angry or hurt. We might lash out at others with our hurt feelings or sit and stew in silence while resentment builds a stone wall around our heart.
What about when God says NO or NOT NOW to us? When He tells us NO, we are absolutely flummoxed and at a loss at His answer, especially if He says NO to something we think is very good. I was under the impression that if we want something that is good (even ministry good) that He would be happy to say YES. This is not always the case though and as I dig through the Bible, I see God say NO, NOT and WAIT more times than I can count.
At the end of the first chapter of Genesis God declared that all He had created was good. He told Adam he could enjoy any and every fruit in the Garden of Eden but He specifically told Adam He could NOT eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God’s reasons were not known to Adam, and he and Eve soon found out the devastating consequences of disobedience that we are still reeling in today. (Gen. 2-3) God said NO to them to protect them. He knew they would be forever changed if they tasted the forbidden fruit. God wanted to stay in perfect fellowship with His creation and their disobedience robbed both man and God of this union.
Another NO is found in the gospels. It is a NO any of us would be unable to say to our child. God said a very difficult NO to His son. In Matthew 26: 42 Jesus prays, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” He was wanting to know if there would be any way His Father would spare Him the pain of death. In Matthew 27, Jesus asks His Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” After each question there was silence. Jesus felt the huge NO of His Father in every nail that entered His body. God did not spare His own son’s life despite His desperate pleas.
God has said NO to my family a lot this year. A big NO came in August when I felt He was leading me to resign from my job. In May I was convinced I would be in the position I was in for years and years…He had called me to it against my wishes 15 month before, had equipped me while there and grown a passion for ministry in me, so why would He call me out? Then God said NO to my husband. His project came to an end and there was not another job to move into. Six months and several interviews later and deafening silence from above and we get the “NO” loud and clear. Even when given a chance to go serve in ministry with our son in Africa, a very good thing, God made it clear that we were NOT to go. It baffles me. What we are seeking are good things. We are not asking for a lot, just a provision that many already have and take for granted.
In this season of NO I am encouraged by God to find the YES amidst all the negatives. I know that He gave a good NO to Adam and Eve and they disobeyed. The consequences were eternal and with their disobedience I must suffer many more NO answers. Here are some of the Yeses I have found in God’s NO. When God said NO to Jesus, He said YES to you and me. There are eternal consequences in His NO to His son. Because God said NO to Jesus, we have been given the YES to eternal life in Christ. I can see His YES to sweet time with my family. I have been able to focus on being a cheerleader to my husband when he receives another devastating “Dear John” letter. We have coffee and chat time every morning, something we won’t be doing when he goes back to work. We have not missed a meal and have been blessed with provision…a big YES. There have been opportunities to read and study with my son that I wouldn’t have had if I had been working. In fact, he would have spent much of his day alone which would make him quite vulnerable. I have also been given a YES as I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow with a vibrant group of women at my church. I have more time for Bible study, quiet contemplation and rest. There are a lot of YES answers that are being uncovered and will be visible in hindsight as well.
It is easy for us to be so focused on God’s NO that we tend not to look at the YES He is saying. Despite the difficulty in hearing a NO, let us ask God to show us His YES in our circumstances. If He is saying NO to us, He has a reason and we must trust that the eternal YES will be far better than the momentary YES we desire today.